No more discs, please

I read an article recently (gee, I read a lot of articles) which suggested that maybe it’s time for discs to be gone.  I actually had to think about this one for a bit before I decided to agree with the sentiment.  In recent years, I can’t think of a time where I used a disc (either floppy or optical) to move information from one computer to another.  For that purpose, I’ve been using a flash drive the vast majority of time.  The remainder of time I download the files from somewhere.

The floppy disc had been a staple of computer storage for many years until one day in 1998 when Apple introduced the iMac personal computer.  It didn’t have a floppy drive.  It did have a CD-ROM drive (and later models would have a CD writer of some kind or another) so loading software and drivers was still possible.  What the iMac really made simple was connecting to the internet.  You only needed a power cable and a cable to connect to the internet (either using the built-in dial-up modem or an ethernet cable to your high-speed internet provider).  Very neat and clean compared to the mass of cables that surrounded PCs of the time.

Now, this caused some great consternation for the consumer who was resistant to this kind of change.  I admit a little trepidation myself at the thought of leaving the floppy behind.

When the portable flash drives (sometimes called thumb drives or by the popular brand of Jump Drives) first came on the scene, I didn’t quite understand what purpose that would have.  Most had sizes of one to four megabytes in size.  Then it was explained to me that they were intended to replace the floppy.  My eyes grew wide at the prospect.  The largest floppies in common usage were 1.44MB in size.  Spend some money on a 4MB flash drive and you have greater storage.  And it has a much faster speed than a floppy drive.

When I got my first 32MB drive, I quickly found use for it in carrying various software tools with me.  My current tools drive is 16GB (about 500 times the size of that first one) in size.

The article suggests another reason for getting rid of discs is installation software.  Major software can almost always be downloaded directly from the publisher.  Drivers for hardware can be downloaded directly from the manufacturer and can often be more current than the disc that was included with the peripheral.

More and more people are downloading music.  Who needs to go to the store and buy a CD when you can download it from Amazon or iTunes from the comfort of your own home?  While the MP3 and AAC formats aren’t as good as a CD (and some would argue CDs still aren’t as good as vinyl) since they are both lossy compression schemes (which means some of the original soundwave is discarded in an effort to make the file smaller), I’ve purchased and downloaded music directly from the artist using a quality setting just as good as a CD (using a lossless compression in the process).

I wholeheartedly agree that the humble disc needs to go away.  It is now nearly antiquated and basically unnecessary.

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